The Interactive & Immersive HQ

Resolume vs TouchDesigner vs VVVV

If you’re one of the many visual artists just starting out on your interactive and immersive journey, you may be confused about TouchDesigner and all the other software options out there, each of their theoretical and technical uses, and which one is best suited for you and your goals.

To help you out with your search, I’ve broken down information about three often compared programs: TouchDesigner, Resolume, and VVVV, and answered the most frequently asked questions when comparing each software.

Which is the most popular platform: Resolume, VVVV, or TouchDesigner?

Each of these platforms is popular for different reasons. TouchDesigner is more commercially in demand when it comes to interactive experiences and immersive media development. Resolume is more often used as a low-cost media server on live performances. VVVV is also used as a commercial tool, and has many similar features and tools to TouchDesigner, but with less commercial demand overall.

What is the difference between Resolume Arena and Resolume Avenue?

Both Resolume Arena and Resolume Avenue have largely the same function, but Avenue is designed for folks that are just getting started and is at a lower price point. The software has less features and is more focused on VJing content and performing with visuals. I always think about this like the visual version of Ableton Live.

Arena is more focused on building tours, controlling lighting, dealing with projection mapping, and is a fully fledged media server replacement that builds on the features of Avenue.

You can find out more in depth about each of the programs’ details here.

There is also Resolume Wire, which can be used in conjunction with Arena and Avenue for building generative effects in a node-based environment.

How do you use Resolume with TouchDesigner?

There are many ways to use Resolume alongside of TouchDesigner. One example is that Resolume can act as a media server and media playback system, which can then feed its output into TouchDesigner for further processing or mapping. This can be a great option for folks who like to be a bit more active in their control of video playback, such as scrubbing, reversing, hot-cueing, etc.

The opposite is also viable where you can use TouchDesigner as a platform for creating generative content or interactive types of media that are controlled through sensors or API data, which can then feed into your Resolume setup for playback, mapping and outputting via Spout or Syphon.

Which is easier for a non-programmer?

Resolume is the easiest software for a non-programmer to learn for personal use because it’s not really built as a development platform. Instead, it’s similar to Ableton, but for video. While it does have the ability to use a node-based system to make graphical effects, it’s not really designed for you to develop custom systems for experiences in the same way that TouchDesigner or VVVV is. Many folks even use Resolume without ever interacting with the node-based system inside.

If you’re getting into immersive development or building installations, you will probably find the TouchDesigner environment to be the easiest platform to use because it has a great balance of a node-based development environment and lots of graphical feedback in the interface, as well as having many tutorials, resources, and pre-built tools and templates available that can really get you started off on the right foot.

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These templates shed light into the most useful and sometimes obtuse features of TouchDesigner.

They’re designed to be immediately applicable for the complete TouchDesigner beginner, while also providing inspiration for the advanced user.

What projects are better for each platform?

For folks that are coming from a music background and wanting to VJ content alongside of their DJ sets, a platform like Resolume is going to get them up and running fastest as a real-time VJ tool. It’s very similar to Ableton’s functionality, layout, and structure, which means that there is a low barrier for learning the system and using the app.

For folks that are more interested in creating generative content, custom systems for their performances, using sensors or different types of inputs, or creating immersive experiences, then a platform like TouchDesigner or VVVV is going to be much better for those use cases because of the programmability of everything.

VVVV has the benefit of being incredibly extensible as well as having a great community, but it doesn’t have as much commercial demand, in that there are not as many people looking for VVVV developers for their projects.

This is where TouchDesigner really shines because it has the amazing community behind it, native first party support for tons of sensors and hardwares, and gives you control to create basically anything you want. There is also as a large commercial demand for TouchDesigner developers, meaning it can be both an artistic tool for yourself as well as a full-time career.

What are the best parts about using Resolume, VVVV, and TouchDesigner?

When it comes to Resolume, what people typically like best is how it really feels like a tool that you can get to work quickly and get results quickly with. In the same way that Ableton feels for audio, Resolume feels for visuals. While those results may be limited in some ways because it’s not a development environment, what you can do out of the box, you can do very quickly and without needing to learn programming or development concepts. It’s also great at interactive video playback like hot-cueing, scrubbing, and reversing videos.

When it comes to VVVV, one of the best parts is that it’s a project that has gathered a huge open source following meaning that almost anything can be hacked and built upon by the community, which is really amazing. It also has some great new features in VVVV gamma, which is their total rewrite of the platform. These features include the VVVV team open-sourcing all of the core libraries, cross-platform app exporting, and more.

The best part about TouchDesigner is that it strikes a balance between advanced functionality/extendibility, while still being a great platform for beginners to learn since it has such a great interface and graphical feedback. Every single node in TouchDesigner has a visual representation of what that operator is doing, which can be invaluable for learning and getting used to procedural workflows. It’s also always on the cutting-edge of supporting new hardware and is time-tested on some of the largest media installations in the world.

Which is the cheapest to work with?

This really depends on what you want to do. With Resolume you will spend money (somewhere between $325-$875 USD) but save a lot of time, especially if what you are creating fits within the capabilities of the program. You don’t have to spend time becoming a developer, you can just get to work building a video-playback enviroment. It’s also WAY more cost effective of a media server if your long-term goal is to get more into media server programming and running music tours.

With VVVV and TouchDesigner, both have licenses that you pay for per installation system/development system, which means that the cost will vary by how complex your project is. If you’re just buying a license for your own personal machine and using that for your installations, you’ll be able to get a TouchDesigner license for $600 USD and a VVVV license for between $600-$1200 USD (depending on how much revenue you make and how established you are).

Both of these licenses include 1 year of updates and can be used perpetually even after that one year, you just won’t get any new features after that. However, both of them are relatively inexpensive compared to large media servers, and they are much more programmable to basically make anything you can dream of since they’re both development environments. This does mean that you will spend some real time learning software development practices and procedural content making workflows before you’re really feeling effective.

Which is better for VJing: Resolume, TouchDesigner, or VVVV?

If your VJing revolves around VJ loops, pre-rendered video content, audio reactive effects and anything that Resolume is already capable of doing, then Resolume is the better option for those VJs. The app does a great job of getting out of your way and letting you perform.

If you want to create VJ systems that involve real-time data sets, tools like Kinect cameras or Zed cameras, other custom sensors, or connecting to different web services like social media feeds, then platforms like TouchDesigner and VVVV are going to be much better for that. They’ll allow you to build out your own custom features and platforms exactly for your needs.

Between those two, TouchDesigner is often more recommended because it also has a lot more graphical feedback in the environment, which makes it easier to learn development concepts.

Who should use Resolume/VVVV/TouchDesigner?

For artists that are coming from a music background, and mostly interested in creating audio reactive visuals based on video clips and VJ loops, then Resolume is a great choice.

If you’re interested in running a traditional media server for shows, performances, theatre shows, and dance performances, then Resolume is also a very cost effective and great choice that does a good job getting out of your way.

For artists that are coming into the industry and are interested in building immersive experiences, real-time generative content, or more custom systems built around sensors or API data, then VVVV and TouchDesigner are the much better options.

What do I like most/least about using Resolume, VVVV, and TouchDesigner?

Resolume

What I like most about Resolume is that it is very fast to use, very stable and does exactly what it says it does. You’re not fussing around trying to make things work, and you can actually get down to performing. However, if you try and do anything outside of its built-in capabilities, you may end up with a very unreliable system involving a bunch of apps held together with gum and tape and you will end up wasting a lot of time.

VVVV

When it comes to VVVV, what I like most about it is that the community has been very active in extending it, and because the core libraries are now open source, the developers have set up a wonderful environment for having VVVV be totally extensible in so many different ways.

A factor that’s less desirable about VVVV is that it’s a difficult application to get started with if you don’t already understand procedural development because there is not much visual feedback. The nodes don’t have graphical interfaces a lot of the time, so this can be very hard for beginners and new developers. It also doesn’t have as much commercial demand as a platform like TouchDesigner, so it can be hard to get paying work with VVVV.

TouchDesigner

What I like most about TouchDesigner is that you can basically do anything with it from VJing to immersive experiences to data visualizations and more. You can do this with a number of different systems whether it’s the built-in operators, using Python, or GLSL, or C++. This means that you have a lot of flexibility in terms of how you build things and what level of depth you want to build things with.

It has a great user interface and an amazing environment to learn new things in because there’s so much graphical feedback and the community is so helpful to developers of all skill levels.

What I like least about it is that it is still a development environment, so in most cases, if you want to do something, you will likely have to build it. This has become better in recent years since there are more tools and templates that are being shared in the community, but there’s definitely still a learning curve to getting into TouchDesigner.

Which platform has the best community?

TouchDesigner and VVVV both have amazing communities. TouchDesigner’s community is larger and more active than the VVVV community. This is because of the commercial demand of being a TouchDesigner developer.

VVVV’s community is amazing because the VVVV core libraries are all open source. This means there are a lot of folks with a deep understanding of what’s going on under the hood and who are working together to extend and improve the environment.

In the TouchDesigner community, you’ll meet a lot of wonderful folks who see themselves as artists first and developers second, which makes for a really creative and artistically focused community that is a lot of fun to work in.

Wrap Up

Choosing between Resolume, TouchDesigner, VVVV and other software can be overwhelming for budding visual and video artists. Whether you want to create your own live visual project, videos, animation, projection mapping, or simply experiment with different mediums, there are so many great tools and software out there.

TouchDesigner’s user-friendly interface and extensive community support makes it stand out for immersive development and experiences. Whereas, Resolume serves as an accessible VJ tool and excels in quick functionality, and VVVV offers amazing extensibility and also has a great, helpful community.

Your choice depends on your artistic goals, technical requirements, and career aspirations within the interactive media realm. Each platform has its strengths and limitations, so align your choice with the features and community support that best match your ambitions.

If you want to learn more about TouchDesigner, check out our TouchDesigner Beginner Tutorial course, and TouchDesigner training program, The HQ PRO.